Go Green! Save Green! Eat Green!

Insider's Viewpoint: Nutrition Experts, Save Mart

Spring. St. Patrick’s Day. Nutrition Month. Three good reasons to look through "green-colored" glasses! More than just a color, green has become symbolic with nature, growth, and HEALTH. First off, "Going Green" is a term used today to explain healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, organic, and sound environmental practices. Secondly, doesn’t everyone like to open his/her wallet and see more "green?" Third, but not least, everyone realizes how good “green” is in the foods we "chew," but wonder just how to "green up those cuisine complexions!" Let’s dig into just how "green" we can be!.

Think Local. "Localvores" are dedicated to eating foods grown close to home. Choose your supermarket according to its local produce selection. Check labels to see where produce has come from. The closer produce is grown to home, the less it has to travel, and the less environmental impact it will have. Consider Organic. Organic produce is grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or bioengineering. Farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources to enhance environmental quality for future generations grow organic products. To get "greener," substitute one conventionally grown product each week with an organically grown item.

Size Matters. When choosing between a large bag or container, consider whether you could use the larger size and reap the savings… a 10-pound bag of potatoes (Potato salad or soup anyone?), larger clamshells of berries, bags of apples/oranges/kiwi. Think Outside the (Fresh Produce) Box! Frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh (Food & Drug Administration). In fact, mixing fresh, frozen, and canned items in your shopping cart can probably steer you closer to the recommended 5-plus servings a day.

"Chews" for Health Benefits. Green veggies get credits for promoting colon and heart health, as well as providing folic acid to pregnant women for birth defect prevention. And, greens in the kale family contain as much calcium as milk. Another produce plus is helping balance all the sodium in our diets with healthy potassium. If that isn’t convincing enough, leafy green vegetables and fruits are loaded with antioxidants, minerals, folate, and flavonoids; these work to prevent unstable molecules (free radicals) from damaging cells.

10 Tips for a Greener Plate.
  • Sneak grated zucchini or chopped bell pepper into meatloaf, quick breads, or pasta sauce.
  • Let lettuce or par-boiled cabbage leaves "wrap" up cubes of cheese, meat bites, rice balls, or condiments.
  • Frozen pizza cries out for frozen or fresh spinach or green pepper.
  • Keep the green when you steam— No steamer? … a few minutes suspended in a colander over a pot of water works!
  • Toss frozen peas or string beans into canned soup—same idea works for mac ‘n cheese as well!
  • Use a salad bar for a veggie sandwich—a dash of balsamic and what a "grab & go" lunch to munch!
  • Check out the prewashed crudités… carrot sticks, broccoli florets and celery sticks are not just for parties anymore! They’re for lunch boxes, "at your desk" nibbles, and love to go to the park in a picnic basket!
  • Don’t walk by the fresh herbs without sniffing! Make pesto (process basil leaves with garlic and olive oil) to spread on crusty bread to pop under the broiler… Bella vita!
  • From leafy greens to gray (ugh!) —don’t steam them as their acids destroy the chlorophyll, leaving an unappetizing plant wad. Precook mustard greens or chard in water 3-10 minutes… even drink the surprisingly tasty water afterwards!
  • Asparagus signals spring—toss spears with fresh tarragon, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees 15 minutes. Repeat often!

Sharon Blakely, Food and Nutrition Supervisor
Erin Tassey, Nutrition Program Spet
LeAnne Heckenlaible, Nutrition Program Spet
Save Mart/Lucky/Food Maxx Supermarkets



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